THE Holyrood inquiry into the CalMac ferries scandal has demanded Nicola Sturgeon hand over a series of documents following her evidence to it last week.

The Public Audit Committee also expressed its “disappointment” with cabinet secretary Keith Brown for providing inadequate written answers to it, and asked for more information.

Both the First Minister and Mr Brown have been given until November 30 to respond.

Ms Sturgeon gave evidence to the committee last Friday on the disastrous contract to build two CalMac ferries at the Ferguson Marine yard on the Clyde.

Awarded in 2015, the deal was supposed to deliver the boats by mid-2018.

They are still under construction, and are £150m over budget and five years late.

Ms Sturgeon denied the deal had been “jobs for the boys”, as the yard was then run by tycoon Jim McColl, an adviser to First Minister Alex Salmond and independence supporter. 

She also denied there was anything unusual in her publicising the yard getting preferred bidder status on 31 August 2015, despite behind-the-scenes concerns. 

Mr McColl claims she was “grandstanding” in order to spite the UK Government, as then Chancellor George Osborne was announcing £500million for Faslane the same day.

Critics say the publicity around preferred bidder status made it harder to pull out of the deal.

The state-owned ferry procurement body CMAL was concerned about Ferguson’s being unable to provide a refund guarantee that would have protected taxpayers and wanted to re-tender the contract, but was overruled by the Scottish Government.

READ MORE: Sturgeon 'grandstanding' over ferries deal to spite UK Government, says former yard boss

In his letter to the First Minister, Committee convener Richard Leonard asks for documents and information around eight specific points.

One of these is a briefing prepared for Ms Sturgeon ahead of the announcement of Ferguson Marine as preferred bidder in August 2015, when the FM visited the yad.

MSPs are also seeking minutes or notes of a meeting with Mr McColl on 31 May 2017 when he told Ms Sturgeon about cash flow problems at the yard.

The Tories have suggested Ms Sturgeon may have broken the ministerial code by taking a political special adviser instead of an impartial full-time civil servant to the meeting, but the Government denies this.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon 'may have broken ministerial code' in CalMac meeting

Ferguson’s later went broke and was nationalised in late 2019.

In his letter to Mr Brown, Mr Leonard said the Justice Secretary’s submission lacked detail about information then transport secretary Derek Mackay may have shared with him in 2015.

At the time, Mr Brown was the economy secretary and was looped into emails about signing off the deal with Ferguson’s while Mr Mackay was on holiday.

Mr Leonard said: “The committee asks you to revisit the first question in our original correspondence to you and provide a response to the specific question that was asked [about Mr Mackay sharing information].

“In more general terms, we wish to express our disappointment that the content of your letter does not provide the level of detail we would have expected, to assist our scrutiny of the Auditor General’s report.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon denies disastrous CalMac ferries deal was 'jobs for the boys'

Mr Leonard last week expressed his displeasure that the substantive part of Mr Brown’s submission amounted to only 150 words.

Mr Leonard also wrote to Auditor General Stephen Boyle asking for a response to a letter from the ferry-owning company CMAL alleging he was mistaken in an earlier submission.

Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie said:  “This letter takes a diplomatic tone but it represents a stern rebuke to the evasive and shifty Scottish Government. 

“It looks as if Scottish Government ministers know that they have been rumbled and are simply trying to string the committee along in the hope the problem goes away.

"Ex-minister Derek Mackay may have seemed like a convenient fall guy but it’s clear that the whole cabinet were thick as thieves on this.” 

“Given the bitter blows suffered by taxpayers and islanders alike, ministers have a duty to be open and honest. We need a full accounting from Keith Brown about what he was told and what action he took.” 

In her evidence to the committee last week, Ms Sturgeon said she was happy to make all the material she referred to available to the MSPs, subject to restrictions on legal privilege and commercial confidentiality.